About Fay

 
FAY ANN LEE
Bio
 
Fay Ann Lee, a Broadway actress (Miss Saigon) with both Sondheim and Shakespeare credits to her name, wrote Falling for Grace as a proactive response to the lack of good roles for Asian American actors. Her script placed in prestigious competitions including the Nicholl Fellowship and the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project at which point Hollywood producers began to show interest.
 
But they wouldn’t buy the screenplay unless Lee changed one thing – the main character’s ethnicity (from Asian American to White or Hispanic), claiming that mainstream America is not ready for a rom com that stars an Asian American protagonist. Sticking to her guns, Lee decided to raise $3 million and produce it herself. Four years later, filming began with a stellar ensemble cast that include Christine Baranski, Lewis Black and Margaret Cho. Falling for Grace premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was one of that year’s biggest hits, and noted by Logan Hill of NY Magazine as one of his top two picks in the NY, NY competition.
 
But despite the film’s success at Tribeca, every distributor turned down the film again asserting its belief that no one would pay to see an Asian American protagonist in an all-American romantic comedy. Lee disagreed. Instead of giving up, she took on yet another role – as distributor.
 
The Sundance Kabuki Theatre in San Francisco was the first theatre that agreed to open up “Grace”. Without any marketing dollars, Lee and her editor, Michelle Botticelli, stood outside the theatre handing out custom fortune cookies to lure in prospective audience members. It worked and they managed to get people to buy tickets to their movie. The word of mouth on the film was better than Lee could imagine, and nearby theatres started to request the film for their own neighborhoods. Two years and 15 cities later, Grace continues to open. From Iowa to D.C., Arizona to Florida, Lee has been fulfilling invitations to open her movie.
 
Universities have also caught on to Lee’s inspiring entrepreneurial spirit. Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wharton, Columbia, Boston University, UMASS Amherst, ASU, University of British Columbia and even Tsinghua University (one of the top universities in China) have all invited Lee to speak to their students about her unique success story as an underdog filmmaker.
 
This is what Michael Schmale, the President of the Yale Film Society (2007) said about Lee:
 
“To label Ms. Lee as an independent filmmaker is misleading. She does not fit the mold of the starving artist, instead thriving as an ambitious, Wharton-educated entrepreneur whose unorthodox approach to independent filmmaking – one that has yielded a product with all the gloss of a big studio flick – affords a rare angle on the harsh world of Hollywood and what it means to pursue your goals on your own terms.
 
On the one hand, Ms. Lee and her film exude a comforting sense of optimism and good humor; on the other hand, they speak to the importance of grit, pragmatism, and hard-nosed determination. The balance of these values is, essentially, what recommends Ms. Lee as a valuable guest.”
 
 

On March 9th, 2010, Falling for Grace will be available on DVD in stores everywhere in North America.
Fay Ann Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong. She has a BA/MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Fay is also an avid tennis player and has represented New York City at USTA national tournaments at the highest amateur level (rated a USTA 5.0 player). She also contributes to a number of tennis/educational charities including: The New York Junior Tennis League, USTA Serves and Harlem Junior Tennis.and Education Program, believing that all three of these programs, through the integration of tennis and education, reach out to enhance the lives of under-served children.